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We Rented Out Our Home to Travel the World

Written by Zehra Abbas

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Last month we were in Islamabad. Last week it was Istanbul, and in a few weeks, we'll be in Portugal. The people we meet on our travels, as well as our family and friends back home, often ask my husband and me how we financially manage this lifestyle. The answer is pretty simple: We leveraged our home by renting it out furnished to finance our adventures. This required some heavy emotional detachment from our home and our possessions, at least for me.

My husband is currently going through a career change, and all his courses are online. I'm starting up a social enterprise, which involves connecting with various non-profit organizations around the world. I have never been more grateful for the Internet and its ability to connect people in meetings from anywhere, anytime, as long as there is a strong Wi-Fi connection.

Trying to Travel with Bills at Home to Pay

Let's rewind back a little. My husband and I had a three-week honeymoon. The following year, we travelled for 2 months. We later followed up that vacation with a three-month one. We had to find housesitters and petsitters, and the numbers didn't make too much sense. It was very costly to pay for travel expenses like flight tickets, hotels, excursions, and the regular expenses like the mortgage and bills that still needed to be paid at home. Once we blew a whole lot of our savings on these vacations, we realized there could be a better way. Unwilling to give up travel, we had to find a way to deal with the mortgage and bills expenses. We realized that by renting out our home, we could actually earn enough money to pay for our rent in affordable apartment-hotels in other parts of the world.

Renting Out Our Home

We worked with a real estate agent to quickly draft a lease agreement and started showing the home. Upon doing our due diligence and checking our city bylaws and regulations, we learned of the importance of landlord insurance, requiring tenants to have their own tenant insurance, and keeping diligent records for tax purposes.

I had carefully picked out our furniture and decor to create an environment in my home that I loved, so I had a deep emotional attachment to my stuff. My husband had none. He often jokes about how his entire life can be fit into one suitcase and mine would take up an entire train. He exaggerates. We filled up two suitcases with clothes we would need, packed up everything else from our drawers and closets, and shifted it all into a small storage room in our basement. I added in a few small furniture pieces I didn't want to risk damage to.

Finding the Right Renter

When we started showing the home, we found a smaller pool of renters seeking furnished properties, so we called a few storage companies just in case we had to empty out the home. Although quite a few people were interested in the home, they weren't the right fit for us. Some asked for significant discounts, which would eat into how much we could spend on rent abroad. Some didn't have the right paperwork or just rubbed us the wrong way.

Luckily, along came a family that fit! They wanted the home just as it was, and they came with few possessions since they'd just moved to the country a little while ago. They had all the right paperwork, from employment letters to credit checks, and solid references.

Not for a moment do we regret our decision. We've been able to immerse ourselves in different countries and their cultures. This off-the-beaten-path lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it's certainly working for us.

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